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Airbnb Rules in Scotland

Airbnb Rules in Scotland

Located in the British Isles, Scotland is a magical country filled with charming towns, historic castles, and stunning landscapes. Approximately 5.5 million people live in Scotland, the largest city being Glasgow. Aberdeen, Dundee, and Inverness are other major Scottish cities.

Scotland has a rich history and culture, with many historic landmarks and monuments, such as Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, and the Culloden Battlefield. The country is also known for its traditional music, dance, and festivals, such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Highland Games.

Tourism In Scotland

Scotland's lifestyle and economy depend heavily on travel and tourism, In Scotland, the tourist industry employs around 9% of the total workforce and the tourist sector in Scotland provides about £6 billion to the national GDP. Scotland received 151 million visits in total in 2019 and spending by visitors from outside Scotland amounted to £2.5 billion in only 2019.

Scotland is also home to some of the world's most beautiful natural landscapes, including the Scottish Highlands, the Isle of Skye, and Loch Ness. These stunning natural features attract visitors from all over the world, who come to hike, fish, and explore the countryside.

The Scottish economy is diverse, with industries such as oil and gas, renewable energy, and tourism playing a major role. The Scottish people are known for their hospitality and friendliness, and visitors to Scotland can expect a warm welcome and a unique cultural experience.

The Impact of Airbnb in Scotland

Airbnb has become a popular accommodation option for travelers visiting Scotland. The platform offers a wide range of listings throughout the country, from city apartments to rural cottages and everything in between. Some of the most popular destinations for Airbnb travelers in Scotland include Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Scottish Highlands, and the Isle of Skye.

BiGGAR economics study found that travel on Airbnb supported more than 33,500 Scottish jobs and boosted the Scottish economy by £677 million in 2019 - a significant contribution to local families and communities. Overall, Airbnb has become an important part of the Scottish tourism landscape, offering travelers a diverse range of accommodation options and supporting local hosts and businesses.

According to NatureScot, tourism is one of Scotland's seven fastest-growing businesses, providing more than £4 billion to the Scottish economy each year. The natural environment is an important tourism feature, with vistas and landscapes being the most compelling reasons for international travelers to visit Scotland.

One of the benefits of using Airbnb in Scotland is the opportunity to stay in unique and interesting properties that may not be available through traditional accommodation providers. For example, travelers can book a stay in a medieval castle, a traditional Scottish croft, or a beautiful restored rural bothy.

Airbnb has also had an impact on the Scottish tourism industry, with many hosts using the platform to supplement their income by renting out spare rooms or holiday homes.

In January 2023, The Scottish Daily Express revealed that a study, done by Crown Pavilions, found that the Scottish Highlands was the county where hosts can expect to earn the most from Airbnb, with an average income of £77 per night or £539 per week. A weekly profit of £340 is higher than the average across the whole of the UK.

Airbnb Regulations in Scotland

Airbnb Regulations in Scotland

For hosts who rent out short-term rental accommodation to guests, a new licensing scheme has been implemented in Scotland.

Short-term Let Legislation in Scotland

As of 1 October 2022, all short-term rentals in Scotland will be required to have a license, unless specifically excluded. It is a legal requirement to obtain a new license, regardless of whether hosts occasionally sublet or let out a spare room for instance.

It is now necessary for accommodations to be licensed, and owners must comply with the new legislation. Local authorities are granted regulatory permissions to ensure the safety of guests and the community.

Why implement Short Term Let Rules?

As in other European countries, the purpose of this law is to curb the growing number of short-term rental agreements without quality control and safety measures, particularly in areas where such agreements are negatively impacting local balances and the availability of housing.

The government is now seeking to support local authorities to make sure that properties meet society's needs, working as a guarantee of housing quality and protecting both guests and owners from other issues. The government is promoting a greater number of residential properties that meet important safety guidelines as well as refraining from having substandard short-lets.

As a result, short-term lets in Scotland will be filtered out, resulting in higher nightly rates and occupancy rates.

Short-term rental license application in Scotland: what to know before you apply

Your local council will require you to apply for a license if you use accommodation to offer short-term rentals in Scotland.

  • Your accommodation will need to meet mandatory conditions. Your local council may also set additional conditions.
  • If your accommodation is in a short-term let control area, it is a condition of the license to have or have applied for, planning permission. If it is not in a control area, and you do not have planning permission, you may still require this in order to obtain a short-term license. You should check with your local council planning department to find out.
  • license fees will likely vary across different local councils and depend on the size and capacity of your accommodation.

Requirement for Existing Host

You have until 1 April 2023 to apply for a license if you were already using your accommodation to provide short-term lets before 1 October 2022.

When you apply, the council may ask for evidence you used the accommodation for short-term lets before 1 October 2022. Existing hosts (those that have received guests before 1 October 2022) have until 1 April 2023* to apply for a license. Hosts can continue to offer lets until their application has been determined.

Requirement for New Host

You must apply for and get a license before you start offering lets. This is if you did not use your accommodation to provide short-term lets before 1 October 2022.

It’s against the law to take bookings or host guests before you have a license. If you do not apply for a license on time, you could get a fine of up to £2,500 and be banned from applying for a license for a year.

Local council processing times

Existing host – councils have up to 12 months to process your application New host – councils have up to 9 months to process your application If a local council does not reach a decision on your application in those timescales, you’ll automatically get a license for up to one year.

This is unless the courts grant the local council an extension of the processing times.

How long is a license valid for?

Licenses are issued by local councils for a specific period of time. Upon issuance of your first license, you can keep it for up to three years.

Types of Short-Term Let License

There are four categories of short-term rentals in Scotland that will be subject to the new licensing scheme, covering a wide range of properties. Before receiving a license, accommodations will be verified to ensure they meet certain criteria.

There are 4 types of licenses:

  1. Secondary letting -letting an accommodation that isn’t a principal home;
  2. Home letting - letting the principal home when vacant;
  3. Home sharing – you rent out all or part of your own home while you’re living there
  4. Home letting and home sharing – a mix of options 2 and 3

Temporary exemptions and how are they granted?

To get a temporary exemption from the requirement to have a license, you must meet certain criteria and apply to your local licensing authority.

The license may be granted for a single continuous period of time (no longer than 6 weeks in a calendar year) to accommodate a large number of visitors in a short period of time (during music or art festivals, sports events, large conferences).

The short-term accommodations still have to adhere to the standard regulations, even when the exemption is granted.

If you have already applied for a permanent license, your temporary license can last for up to six weeks. All mandatory conditions and requirements will still apply, even if you receive a temporary license number. In that case, your temporary license will last until your license application is finalized.

Short-term Rental Compliance for Scotland's New Legislation

In Scotland, all short-term rentals must comply with mandatory regulations that are linked to safety. It's important to verify whether the property complies with the regulation and this can be found here.

Every short-term let application also requires consultation with:

  • Police Scotland
  • The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • The council’s Environmental Health Service
  • Planning and Building Standards departments

Types of accommodation that need a license Residential and commercial properties in Scotland are covered by the short-term let licensing scheme, which includes:

  • B&B and guesthouse
  • A Boat (fixed and not used as transport)
  • Boathouse
  • Cabin
  • Castle
  • Chalet
  • Cottage
  • An exclusive use venue where accommodation is provided (that does not have a license to sell alcohol)
  • farmhouse
  • A holiday caravan or glamping pod that does not already have a caravan site license
  • Lighthouse
  • Lodge
  • self-catering or holiday let

serviced apartment, either on its own or up to 4 in a building that's a flat or residential unit where:

  1. hosts provide services to guests (such as housekeeping, phone desk, reception, or laundry)
  2. each flat or unit contains its own washing, cooking, and dining facilities separate from each of the other flats or units
  3. there's a management system to prevent anti-social behavior and imposes limits to the maximum occupancy of the flats or units
  • shared home or rooms within a home
  • shepherd hut
  • tent, tipi, or wigwam
  • treehouse
  • yurt

Excluded Accommodation

You do not need a license for

Aparthotels, meaning a building that,

  • is entirely owned by the same person
  • has at least 5 serviced apartments, managed and operated as a single business
  • has a shared entrance for the serviced apartments
  • has serviced apartments that do not share an entrance with any other flat or residential unit in the building
  • bothy – a building of no more than 2 storeys that has:
  • Houses with no main electricity piped fuel supply or piped mains water supply
  • Houses is at least 100 metres from the nearest public road and from the nearest habitable building
  • It is a holiday caravan or glamping pod sited within a park with a caravan site license (Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960)
  • Hotels, B&B or guest house with a premises license under Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005
  • self-catering accommodation within the grounds of licensed premises or hotel (Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005). The accommodation needs to be specifically mentioned as part of the operating plan

Private residential tenancies and social housing tenancies do not require a license. However, A short-term let license is required in addition to your House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) license if you offer short-term lets.

How can Hostaway Help?


Hostaway's vacation rental software offers a robust platform that allows hosts to effectively manage their Airbnb listings in Scotland, streamlining the marketing process and ensuring that bookings are well-managed. However, it is crucial for hosts to adhere to the specific regulations and guidelines established by Airbnb for listings in Scotland.

By using Hostaway in conjunction with a thorough understanding of the applicable regulations, hosts can optimize their Airbnb listings and deliver an exceptional experience to their guests in Scotland. If you're interested in learning more about Hostaway and how it can enhance your property management business, you can schedule a demo call with one of our product experts to gain valuable insights and discover how Hostaway can work for you.

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